Going into Dinner at Acadia, I have to admit my expectations were incredibly high due to all the hype surrounding this place ever since it opened in the fall. The restaurant is located on Clinton Street, just off of College and serves up “flavours and techniques of Acadian and Lowcountry cuisine” according to their website. Not exactly sure what this meant but I was about to find out.The restaurant is divided into two areas – a main dining area and a bar area with a few tables and an open kitchen. The atmosphere is casual and the decor is quite simple. There really isn’t much to it.
Acadia has a small seafood-heavy menu with only a handful of appetizers and entrees to choose from. Their drinks menu, on the other hand, is much larger. They have quite the selection of cocktails, for you alcoholics.
I came to Acadia with Jacob (Restos in TO) and we started with the Northumberland Strait Scallop – chicken crackling, parmesan crisp, pickled watermelon rind, basil ($15). Just look at the presentation of this dish! You can tell they put a lot of effort into their presentation here at Acadia. I’m happy to report that the scallops tasted as amazing as it looked. The scallops were perfectly seared – a nice sear on the outside while soft and tender on the inside.The chicken crackling and parmesan crisp was a welcome addition to the dish… but c’mon, doesn’t crackling make everything better? As for the pickled watermelon rind, I found that it reminded me of pickled daikon. It added another great layer of flavour to the dish. A definite must-order at Acadia!
Another starter we ordered was the N.S Cod Cheeks – blue cornmeal, pickled prawn, sugarcane chow chow, mirlitons, whipped buttermilk ($13). I loved the cute presentation of this dish which reminded me of little sandcastles on the beach. The dish came with little bite-sized cornmeal crusted cod cheeks. I’ve never had cod cheeks before but I expected the texture to be a little more tender. I thought the dish was decent but it was my least favourite dish of the evening. On a side note, I really enjoyed the pickled prawn which came with the cheeks. I could have eaten a whole plateful of these!The next dish we had was the dish featured on Dish Duel, the Anson Mills “Pencil Cobb” Grits – gulf shrimp, oyster mushrooms, pimento cheese, ham hock consommé ($14). The grits were served in a clear glass bowl and our server came by to pour in a bit of the consommé into the grits creating a shallow pool around the grits. I don’t typically enjoy grits but this was certainly a game-changer. The grits were incredibly creamy and was packed full of flavour from the consommé and cheese. The shrimp had a nice bite to them and added a nice bit of texture to the creamy grits. The grits came topped with some parsley and chives which were a nice garnish for the dish. I can see why this is a crowd-pleaser…comfort food at its best!
Since Jacob and I had dined at another restaurant earlier in the evening, we only ordered one entree, the Lois Lake Steelhead – caramelized fennel, pickled persimmon, andouille jerky, black garlic ($23). Again, the presentation of this dish was nothing less than stellar. The fish fillet came rolled up into a little cylinder and was cooked to perfection – still a little pink in the centre. I enjoyed the pickled persimmon and andoille jerky garnishes which topped the fish and overall, the dish was a big hit. Since the portion wasn’t very big, I just regret not getting my own order!I wasn’t thinking of ordering Acadia’s Cornbread – sweet potato/bourbon butter ($8), but one sniff of the fresh cornbread from the table next to us changed my mind. I have never had cornbread this light and fluffy! Completely unlike the dense variety usually served at other places. I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of cornbread in general, but Acadia’s was certainly a nice surprise. As for the sweet potato and bourbon butter it was served with, it tasted strongly of sweet potato but I couldn’t detect much bourbon…not that I’m complaining.
Even though we were both stuffed, we felt the need to end of our meal with something sweet. There were two desserts to choose from and since the other option was a rice pudding, we decided to go with the lighter sounding choice, Carrot & Coconut – pecan streusel, coconut curd, maple sugar, buttermilk snow ($9).This dessert wasn’t what I was expecting at all! It was a deconstructed dessert which consisted of sweet and savoury elements – sweetness from the maple sugar and pecan streusel and a salitness coming from the confit carrots (yes, that’s confit carrots in a dessert!). My favourite part of the dessert was actually the buttermilk “snow”, which I didn’t realize was literal in meaning. It was cold and light. A really refreshing way to end off the entire meal.
Just as a warning, the portions here are on the small side, so what we ordered probably wouldn’t be enough to satisfy two hungry people. We were only stuffed since we had eaten earlier.
Despite all the hype and high expectations going into this meal, I’m happy to report that Acadia did not let me down! Fantastic food and great service. I’m already eagerly awaiting my next meal here…At a glance:
• Worth the hype – a memorable meal
• Open for dinner every night from 5:30 except Tuesdays
• Small, seafood-heavy menu which changes regularly
• Great drink selection
• Warm, casual atmosphere
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4.5 stars
• Service: 4.5 stars
• Atmosphere: 3 stars